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The Nigerian music industry has indeed over the years evolved to a great pedestal of arts and entertainment. There is no denying the dexterity of her gifted musical acts. 

As our great music industry has for several decades thrived thanks to the quintessential efforts of unalloyed individuals like Sir Victor Uwaifo, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Dr. Victor Olaiya, King Sunny Ade, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, Sonny Okosun, Onyeka Onwenu, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Chief Oliver De Coque, Ebenezer Obey, Celestine Ukwu, Majek Fashek, Ras Kimono, Bobby Benson, Charly Boy, Bright Chimezie, Blacky, Mike Okri, Junior & Pretty and so many others.

Below are the classic Nigerian songs of all times, please this list is formulated due to my predilection for these songs and their performers.

1. Shuffering and Shmiling

This track “Shuffering and Shmiling”, is an expansive track spanning two sides and reaching over 20 minutes in length, Fela tackles the subject of religion, denouncing the two major religions of the colonial masters, Christianity and Islam, which he believed helped sustain passivity in the downtrodden masses. He vehemently rejected the idea of suffering on earth and wait to only find happiness in heaven and points out that our leaders who espouse these beliefs often live hypocritically in opulence. He, therefore, called for the embrace of traditional African beliefs.

Released: 1978
Recorded: 1977 in Nigeria
Genre: Afrobeat
Label: Coconut PMLP 1005
Producer: Fela Kuti

2. Sweet Mother

This is a highlife song by the Nigerian and Cameroonian singer Prince Nico Mbarga and his band Rocafil Jazz and it remains one of the most popular songs in Africa.
The song has sold over 13 million copies. Critics often refer to it as Africa's anthem and it was voted Africa's favourite song by BBC readers and listeners in 2004.
The song is a celebration of motherhood, sung in Nigerian Pidgin English. The music is West African highlife, with Congolese Soukous-style guitar finger-picking.

Released: 1976
Recorded: 1974 in Nigeria
Genre: Highlife
Label: Rogers All-Stars

3. Baby Mi Da (Baby Jowo)

This is a great love song released by Victor Olaiya in the 1980s. It was so thrilling that it got a remix. This remix featured iconic musician 2 Baba, the song remixed was produced by Spellz and Nollywood's finest, Director Kunle Afolayan, who directed the music video and it also doubled as his music video directorial debut. The song was released in July 2013 to critical and commercial acclaim. 

4. Osondi Owendi 

The song when translated to English means one man's meat is another man's poison. As life was different strokes for different folks. To each their own. Osondi Owendi represents oyolima at its finest, and possibly Nigerian highlife in epitome. This is a big-time classic in Nigeria and it established Osadebe as a leader in the highlife genre.
"Osondi Owendi" was also remixed by Mc Loph and featured vocals from Flavour N'abania which was released in 2009.

Released: 1984
Recorded: 1984 in Nigeria
Genre: Highlife
Label: PolyGram Records
Songwriter: Chief Osita Osadebe

5. Joromi

Sir Victor Uwaifo released 'Joromi' in 1965. He made history in 1996 when he was presented with the first Golden Record in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa by Philips for his hit song Joromi.
Nigerian super-talented singer Simi did a version of the song and it was released in 2017.
According to ancient Bini folklore (Benin-City or Benin Empire), Joromi was a warrior (wrestler) who battled and defeated all possible rivals on earth. With no rivals on earth to engage in battle, he decided to battle with people from the Afterworld.
Defying warnings from the elders of the land he engaged in battle with a warrior from the Afterworld. He never returned to tell if he was victorious.
The story of Joromi became very popular when Sir Victor Uwaifo sang about Joromi.

6. Seun Rere

This inspirational record by Christy Essien-Igbokwe which loosely translates “be good/do good” was released in 1981 and is featured on the album Ever Liked My Person? under International Records, Skylark Records. It became a rallying cry within Nigeria. This song is an evergreen song and will always be in the heart of every Nigerian.

7. Send Down The Rain

Majek Fashek released his solo album in 1988 titled Prisoner of Conscience and 'Send Down the Rain' came off the album. This song got him six PMAN Music Awards and earned him the moniker 'The Rainmaker' across boards. His success story is incomplete if you fail to mention this song. It was one of the hits in his 1988 album.

8. One Love

Onyeka Onwenu popularly known as the “Elegant Stallion” by the Nigerian press a moniker dubbed on her for her great contributions to Nigeria in terms of music, entertainment, broadcasting, politics and human rights activism.
In 1986, she released “One Love” off her 1984 album 'In The Morning Light' released by Polygram. This song is regarded as one of the greatest Nigerian songs of all time due to its messages of peace, unity, love and harmony. 
These messages are now more than ever needed in Nigeria, as the country faces serious political, religious, ethnic and economic unrest.
The song was also included in her “Golden Songs Vol.3” Album which was released in 1991.

9. Which Way Nigeria

Legendary Musician Sunny Okosun in February 1983, released this beautiful song off his album of the same name, Which Way Nigeria, which was released in 1984 under the EMI label in Nigeria and licensed to Jive Records for international promotions.
This classic song has metamorphosed into a prophetic song, as the questions posed by Sunny Okosun are still very relevant in Nigeria.

10. Wait for Me

Grammy nominee King Sunny Ade and the “Elegant Stallion” Onyeka Onwenu Onwenu collaborated on some tracks in the late 1980s, they include "Madawolohun (Let Them Say)" which appeared in 1988's Dancing In The Sun. This was the first of three songs the pair worked on together; the other two "Choices" and "Wait For Me" which centred on family planning, were endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria and they used "Choices" in their PSA outputs.
This classic is ever-green as it speaks to everyone in society, particularly young people and family. 

Genre: Highlife
Year of Release: 1989

11. Under Pressure

Ras Kimono released his solo debut album Under Pressure on the Premier Music label in 1989 after he left the music group The Jastix. The album propelled him to instant continental stardom. The album had hits such as "Natty Get Jail", "Rhumba Style" and the massive hit "Under Pressure" which explored some of the societal ills in Nigeria and the world at large.
His music was greatly influenced by the poverty, inequality and hardship he witnessed in his early life. This song is another great classic tone.

12. Let's Live Together

This song was delivered by Kush a now-defunct gospel band. The group gained popularity in the early 2000s with the single "Let's Live Together" and they managed to release an album before disbanding.

The song got a remake in 2014 which featured renowned artist Flavour, industry phenomenon Morrell and in addition, a special feature by award-winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This classic is a heartfelt appeal to Nigerians to live together in peace and unity and a reminder that there is strength in our diversity as a people. The relevance of this song in Nigeria now can't be overemphasised.

Genre: Afro-Pop
Country: Nigeria
Released: 2002

13. Jaga Jaga

Eedris Abdulkareem released his third album in 2004, Jaga Jaga, a Yoruba term for "shambles", declaiming corruption and suffering in Nigeria. The title track 'Jaga Jaga' was banned from radio by the then president of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo. Though people continued to play it in nightclubs and spots all over the country and became a sort of underground Nigerian national anthem.

He released a sequel to "Jaga Jaga" in January 2012 during the Occupy Nigeria protest against the lifting of fuel subsidies. In the first quarter of 2021, he released a series of songs, including the much-awaited "Jaga Jaga Reloaded" featuring Raw Nwanne and Madarocker.

14. African Queen

2 Baba released his debut solo album Face 2 Face in 2004. It became a major hit (sold up to 2 million copies) initially in Nigeria, but quickly spread through western and southern Africa, and eventually making an impact in Europe as well. Its success owed much to the lead radio track "African Queen", a guitar ballad with elements of West African folk music and hip-hop. 

The song is a great classic song and many music aficionados argue it was this singular song that changed the stratosphere of 2 Baba’s career and propelled him to international greatness. In 2006, the song "African Queen" was in the soundtrack for film Phat Girlz, which was released internationally. 

This song has been a blessing and a curse as it has had its share of controversies over who is the legitimate writer of the song. Blackface Naija has over the years accused 2 Baba of stealing the song from him and releasing it without paying him any form of royalties.

15. Mr President

African China released his sophomore album titled "Mr. President", in 2006 and it went on to be one of the hottest selling albums in Nigeria. This tone is an upbeat anthem from the mid-2000s that preached good leadership and moral standards in the corridors of power and national security.

This song remains a classic to this day.

16. Fall in Love

This is a song by Nigerian singer and harmonica player D'banj. It serves as a single from his third studio album, The Entertainer (2008). The song was produced by Don Jazzy and according to Africa Review, it earned D'banj national stardom in Nigeria.

A romantic classic for all times.

Released: 2009
Genre: Afrobeats, Afropop
Label: Mo' Hits Records
Songwriter: Dapo Oyebanjo
Producer: Don Jazzy

17. Green Land

TY Bello in 2008, released her debut album, Greenland, which housed the titular lead single. It was produced by Mosa Adegboye and took two years to develop. The album earned her a Nigeria Music Award and a Sound City Award. Bello described the album as a journey of her everyday life. The album's music embodies the themes of love, family and nation. Its title track is an inspirational song written to motivate Nigerians to liberate themselves from a place of despair to a place of hope.

The song remains a true inspirational classic for all Nigerians.

18. Originality

"Originality" is a song by Nigerian R&B singer Faze, which he wrote, recorded and mastered in one day. The song was produced by Waz Beat for Faze's third studio album, Originality (2008). This is a song that praises and reminds people about past legends and heroes. It was the last written and recorded single off the platinum-selling Originality album. The song was released as the first single from the album in August 2008. The single topped various charts around Nigeria.

An original definition of a classic that pays homage to all African and Nigerian heroes past.

Released: August 2008 (Nigeria)
Recorded: 2008
Label: Independent Entertainment
Songwriter: Chibuzor 'Faze' Oji
Producer: Waz Beat

19. Holla At Your Boy

This is a song by Grammy award-winning artist Wizkid. It was officially released on 2 January 2010, as the lead single from his debut studio album Superstar (2011). The song was produced by DJ Klem (Knighthouse) and Vebee.

This song earned Wizkid the Next Rated award at The Headies 2011. It has been over ten years since its release but it remains a teen pop classic and propelled the evolution of Nigerian pop sound and Wizkid himself.

Released: 2 January 2010
Recorded: 2009
Genre: Afrobeats
Label: Empire Mates Entertainment
Songwriter: Ayodeji Balogun
Producer: DJ Klem (Knighthouse), Vebee

20. Oleku

This is a song by Nigerian rapper Ice Prince. It features vocals by Brymo and was released as the lead single from his debut studio album Everybody Loves Ice Prince (2011). "Oleku" received positive reviews and became one of the most remixed Nigerian songs of all time. 
It was also one of the most popular Nigerian songs of 2010, the year many consider the golden age of Nigerian hip-hop. "Oleku" won Hottest Single of the Year at the 2011 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. It won Song of the Year at the 2011 City People Entertainment Awards and was nominated for the same award at the 2010 Dynamix All Youth Awards. Ice Prince won Song of the Year and Best Rap Single for "Oleku" and was nominated for Next Rated, Lyricist on the Roll and Best Collaboration at The Headies 2011 awards.

This dope rap single is a classic anytime and any day.

Released: June 8, 2010
Recorded: 2010
Genre: Hip hop, Afrobeats
Label: Chocolate City
Songwriter: Panshak Zamani and Olawale Ashimi
Producer: Jesse Abaga

21. Mad Over You

This is a song by Nigerian singer Runtown, released on November 4, 2016. It was primarily produced by Del B, along with production assistance from Runtown and T-Spize. Described as a love-themed ballad, "Mad Over You" is a blend of Ghanaian highlife and R&B. It debuted at number 38 on the Billboard Twitter Top Tracks chart, marking the singer's first appearance on the chart. As of March 2017, "Mad Over You" garnered over 2 million streams on the streaming media service Spotify.

According to African Facts, 'MAD OVER YOU' set a new record by becoming the only African song with the highest number of covers with over 3,701 covers worldwide.

Even though this song is just five years old since its release. It has transcended all borders to become a classic.

Released: November 4, 2016
Recorded: 2016
Genre: Highlife, R&B, Pon Pon
Label: Eric Many Entertainment
Songwriter: Douglas Jack
Producer: Runtown, Del B, TSpize


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